Ad blizzard expected over health reform


People still remember Harry and Louise, the fictional couple that helped torpedo Bill Clinton’s health care reform initiative in the early days of his presidency. That campaign is said to have cost around $14M. That figure figures to be dwarfed by spending from both sides expected to be generated as the Obama initiative plays out.

According to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, $31M has already been spent, more than double the amount dropped on the media by Harry and Louise, and that number is expected to skyrocket into the $250M range.

The Associated Press reported on the study, which shows about $15M of the cash spent so far backing Democratic efforts, about $4M has been spent in opposition and another $12M has generally supported some sort of improved coverage without specifying its nature – coming mostly from pharmaceutical companies that figure to earn more if more people are covered.

The report suggests that most early ads have gone toward influencing key legislators and staffers – a strategy that often focuses the buys in the Washington DC market – but as the debate heats up, a more general approach is expected with the size of the buys increasing commensurately.

RBR/TVBR observation: It’s one thing to influence public opinion in general, so it shows up in the polls. It’s another thing to influence the opinion of hardcore news junkies, the type that are likely to take the time to fire off a letter or email to their own legislator. There will probably be room for both types of ad buys, but the stations that have the best shot at a big piece of the pie will be those with good news and public affairs programming.